The 707th Special Missions Battalion, a unit of South Korea’s Army Special Warfare Command (ROKA SOCOM), is renowned globally as a team of skilled and proficient operatives. Their reputation for excellence is well-established.
The 707th Special Missions Battalion is the primary counter-terrorism unit and rapid response force of South Korea. The unit’s operators, distinguished by their black berets, are responsible for executing various missions, including urban counter-terrorism operations. Additionally, they serve as the South Korean Army’s rapid response force in emergencies. Comprised of several primary counter-teams supported by demolition and support teams, their headquarters are in Songham, southeast of Seoul.
The 707th Special Missions Battalion was formed in response to the Munich massacre. The South Korean government recognized the need for a counter-terrorist unit in preparation for the 1988 Olympics to be held in South Korea. In 1984, the B Squadron of Delta Force traveled to South Korea to conduct training with the 707th.
Before its reorganization, the 707th Battalion had approximately 200 members organized into various teams, including a Counter-Terrorism Team, Maritime-Operations Team, Air-Assault Team, Sniper Team, Intelligence Company, and All-female Company. The all-female company could be utilized for bodyguard duties or low-visibility operations, with all teams divided into fourteen-man operating teams and support and demolition teams.
The South Korean government has also called on the unit to prioritize potential counter-terrorist operations against any possible threats on South Korean soil. The unit is South Korea’s primary counter-terrorist and quick-reaction force. Once distinguished by their black berets (before the standardization of the black beret for all active soldiers), the unit’s soldiers are tasked with conducting urban counter-terrorist missions and constitute the Army’s quick-reaction force for emergencies. The unit’s nickname is ‘White Tiger.’
In February 2019, the former 707th Special Mission Battalion underwent reformation and was renamed the 707th Special Mission Group, with additional personnel and equipment to ensure higher readiness and operational capabilities.
1982 Korean Air Force transport crash
On February 5th, 1982, the unit experienced a tragic loss when a Fairchild C-123J aircraft carrying 47 members and six Korean Air Force personnel met with a fatal accident while approaching Jeju International Airport in Jeju, South Korea. This was the deadliest non-war related accident the Korean armed forces had seen since the Korean War, except another Air Force C-123 that crashed into Mt. Choenggye on June 1st, 1982, resulting in the deaths of 53 individuals, including 49 commandos and four air force personnel.
Training and selection
The 707th Special Mission Battalion recruitment process typically involves individuals from various Republic of Korea Armed Forces branches who apply and compete to become members of the elite unit. Additionally, some candidates are personally selected by superiors across different military branches and go through the same application process as their counterparts. The selection process is highly rigorous, beginning with a background check and culminating in a 10-day evaluation during which 90% of applicants are eliminated.
Upon being chosen to join the unit, candidates undergo a year-long basic training program, which includes six months of basic infantry combat skills and another six months of specialized warfare training. All members of the 707th Special Mission Battalion are SCUBA and parachute qualified. There are reports of their daily routines, including performing calisthenics in the snow and sub-zero temperatures. The Army has also released a video of 707th members swimming in freezing lakes without thermal protection.
There are also rumors that the 707th Special Mission Battalion has a group of female operators who are combat qualified and can be deployed in situations where a woman would not be suspected of posing a risk, such as during an airline hijacking.
The 707th Group also owns and operates a multi-complex counter-terrorism training site for the Republic of Korea Army Special Warfare Command and hosts multi-national counter-terrorism training. Since 2011, the 707th Special Mission Group has been present in the United Arab Emirates as part of the South Korean Special Operations Forces contingent, named ‘Akh Unit,’ deployed to train local forces.
For years, members of the 707th Special Mission Battalion have shaped themselves through joint training with foreign special forces partners, including the US Army’s Delta Force, British Special Air Service, Russian FSB, Alpha Group, French GIGN, FBI HRT, Hong Kong SDU, and Singapore Police Force STAR. This joint training aims to gain experience, increase relationships and exchanges with international special forces communities, and reach a new level of proficiency.
The 707th Special Mission Battalion is outfitted with a diverse array of weapons and equipment, both foreign and domestically-produced. The unit employs the Colt .45, the Daewoo 9mm, and Berretta M9 9mm handguns among their secondary weapons. Their primary weapon of choice for assaults is the HK MP5 submachine gun.
They also utilize the Daewoo K1 and K2 assault rifles, often modified for specialized operations with the addition of forward pistol grips and night vision devices. For machine gun support, the unit employs modified M60E3s and Daewoo K3 Beltfeds. The unit uses the Benelli Super-90 shotgun with pistol grips to protect the rearguard. The unit’s snipers are equipped with the HK PSG1 and M-24 7.62mm rifles, while larger caliber needs are met with the M-40 .50 and RAI .50 caliber weapons.
The 707th Special Mission Battalion has a long history of providing security for significant public events and high-profile individuals. They were responsible for securing the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Olympics, where their primary mission was to protect attendees from potential terrorist attacks. In addition to securing major events, the unit is tasked with urban counter-terrorism operations. Furthermore, the 707th Special Mission Battalion serves as a rapid-response force for various emergencies and special warfare requirements during the war.
Oldest SOF operator in the world
Warrant Officer Joo Ho Han (1957-2010) was a highly respected member of the South Korean UDT/SEALs and the oldest active-duty special operations operator in the world. He was renowned for his exceptional physical fitness, even in his later years. As a key pioneer for the UDT/SEALs, he served the unit from its early establishment and was a true exemplar of a “superfit operator.” Sadly, his unwavering dedication and commitment resulted in his tragic death in 2010, at the age of 53, during a mission.